While the country has plenty to offer, for those keen to stay off the well-trodden tourist trail my pick of seven off-beat places you need to visit in Norway is a great resource with which to start your search.
Stirring landscapes that inspire thoughts of adventures in the great outdoors make Norway a popular destination with active travellers.
Defined by indomitable mountain peaks and vast, rocky fjords the country also boasts some of the most beautiful villages and towns in Europe; wherever you look you’re bound to find a picture-perfect view.
For those planning a trip to Norway the challenge of choosing just one, or a handful of sights to see becomes harder with each new destination uncovered.
THE HARDANGERVIDDA PLATEAU
Due to “Allemannsretten” (every man or woman’s right of public access), you can pitch a tent wherever you want in Norway (unless anything else is stated at a specific area).” – Norway Tourism
Allemannstretten is a right that every traveller should keep in mind when visiting Norway, especially the Hardangervidda Plateau. Europe’s largest mountain plateau and Norway’s largest national park, Hardangervidda’s ancient geology offers spectacular terrain for hiking and camping.
THE ARCHIPELAGO OF SOUTHERN NORWAY
Characterised by clapperboard houses painted red, white, ochre, or blue, the coastline of Norway’s southern archipelago is a charming reminder of the country’s once thriving shipbuilding industry. These timber towns, with their narrow streets and market squares, have become vibrant cultural hubs that offer an idyllic coastal lifestyle.
Rent a water-front cottage and spend some time exploring the coastline by kayak, head further out into the surrounding Skagerrak Strait and try your luck sea fishing, or, in the summer months, lay out on the smooth rock slopes typically found in this part of Norway.
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THE ALFOTBREEN GLACIER
Norway’s westernmost glacier, the Alfotbreen is surrounded by distinctive geological formations from the Devonian Age and traversing its ever-changing icy surface is awe-inspiring.
It is advisable to take a tour onto the glacier; the walk out from Vingen takes you through the biggest petroglyph field in the Nordic countries and affords two star-lit nights sleeping wild in the mountain cabins at Blåbrebu and Gjegnabu.
THE WILDS OF FEMUNDSMARKA
Along the unkept trails that wend their way through Femundsmarka, one the largest stretches of unspoilt wilderness in southern Scandinavia, you’ll find that reindeer wander into your path and on occasion timberline moose, brown bears, and wolverine make their presence known.
Primeval in its appearance, the Femundsmarka hasn’t changed much since the ice-age and thanks to its rugged terrain it is promoted as one of the best hiking regions in Norway by the Norwegian Trekking Association. There are plenty of picturesque routes to explore (many double up as off-piste ski routes in the winter), however it is worth noting that when the weather is in clement you can also canoe along its many rivers and lakes for days at a time.
THE OUTERMOST LOFITEN ISLANDS
The far-flung Lofoten Islands are known for the distinctive mountains that rise skyward from their shores. Peppered with narrow fjords that offer an intimate view of the surrounding alpine landscape, the most iconic images of this region all showcase the majestic northern lights which can often be found dancing across the sky.
For the most authentic Lofoten experience visit the once isolated town of Fredvang where you can pick up the popular hiking trail to Kvalvika Beach. Also, the coastal villages Hamnøy and Reine deserve exploration, the road to reach them is picturesque in itself.
THE LYNGSALPENE MOUNTAIN RANGE
A dream destination for skiers, the Lyngsalpene mountains are a backcountry paradise surrounded by fjords. Several of the region’s mountains rise over 1000 metres above sea level and for those who traverse their peaks, fabulous alpine views await.
While the mountain peaks certainly pose a challenge to those who venture there, there’s no need to be an extreme sports junkie to visit the Lyngsal Peninsula. In addition to the imposing mountains, there are gentler slopes that are perfect for hiking or cycling. You’ll also find a number of excellent lakes for fishing and plenty of opportunities to see native wildlife such as reindeer, elk, and wolverine.
While Norway offers endless opportunities for active, outdoor adventures, these six off-beat destinations offer some of the most idyllic landscapes and hopefully, few other visitors to distract you from the view.
Featured image by Judith CC flickr
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Have you been to any off-beat destinations in Norway? Leave your suggestions below.